This week Nelson and me made a visit to Korogocho, one of the slums outside Nairobi. Situated next to the slum is the dump site of Nairobi, (Dandora dump site) which provides the daily work and bread for so many people in close by slums. Just by entering Korogocho we were faced with the extreme poverty in this area. One of the first people we met was a young boy. He was probably about 11 years old. Our guide, one of the local young leaders of Korogocho, explained that the boy is homeless and spends his time on the dumpsite, trying to find and collect things for selling and also to look for food. The boy doesn’t go to school. He has to make a way to provide for himself in order to survive so there’s no time for getting an education. On the other side of the river a man was emptying buckets of human waste. That is his daily work. People have him come and collect the waste and then they pay him something small for it. The people we met in Korogocho were very friendly, smiling toward us and greeting us as we passed by. Even the small children were laughing and running around us, wanting to shake hands and say “how are you?”. Even though the government made some improvements in the area, as building a main road and putting up lights along the road, there are so many more things to be done. The living standard for the people in Korogocho is extremely low. Most of the houses or shacks are built with mud or with big pieces of metal sheet. On many of the roofs you can see big stones and metallic pieces. They are there to prevent the rain from getting into the houses. Along with the narrow alleys between the shacks and houses there are streams of muddy water running, filled with trash and human waste. Combined with the heat, the smell is almost unbearable sometimes. The main streets are crowded with people selling things, most probably collected from the dumpsite, but there are also small kiosk where you can buy fruits and vegetables, milk and bread, hardware, get credit for the phone and other necessary things. One of the Mamas we met insisted that we should visit her sick neighbour. Entering the tiny and dark mud house we found the neighbour on the bed. There was no doubt what she suffered from. I had seen it before. Her bony body witnessed of that her state of AIDS had already gone too far. On the ground next to the floor a man was sitting and cooking over the jiko (a fire place made out of a pot with coals in). He was also a neighbour giving his time and effort to help the sick lady. I felt so powerless and stupid just standing there, watching the lady barely able to sit. In the middle of all the sadness, the heart of the people, sharing their time and their little resources with each other really made an impression on me. Another impression that I got, walking around in Korogocho, is that the people here are really hard working people. Many work from 4 am until late at night in order to get the daily bread for the family. We met an old Mama with a cattle of goats, that despite swollen feet, walks a long distance every day to get leftovers and food wastes for the goats and then walk the distance back again to her home where she let the goats eat what she has brought. I’ve been both visiting and working in slums before, but this visit once again reminded me of that we must never give up the fight for development and equal rights for everyone. That includes the rights to education, health care, sufficient shelter and sanitation and not least the right to food. And we must never take anything for granted. As for people in many countries, life can turn around in one minute. One day you have plenty the next day you have nothing. And I think that is why people here share so much with each other, because they know that next day they might be the one in need. It’s definitely something to give an extra thought about. Na Upnedo Anne
After moving to my new place in Saika (outside Nairobi) there is no doubt that Pauu has become my favourite neighbour. Pauu makes the best chapati (an Indian bread) in the world according to my opinion. He is at his chapati kiosk from 6 am until almost midnight six days a week, working hard with preparing, baking and selling over 400 chapatis every day. And in exchange for a meal of Swedish food (meatballs and mashed potatoes) Pauu gave me a lesson in how to make chapati – real Kenyan style. The people of Kenya (and probably of the rest of the world) eat chapati together with a meal of food, but my favourite way of eating it is plain with peanut butter and sliced bananas, it is a perfect meal itself. Bon appetite!
Three good months have already past since I arrived to Nairobi. In order to renew my visa, me and Nelson decided to travel to the neighbouring Tanzania. So with the bus company Riverside Shuttle, we boarded a bus full of Tanzanian nuns, a Spanish woman and a Tanzanian muslim and headed south. After crossing the boarder to Tanzania the view from the bus window just got more and more beautiful as we got closer to our destination – Moshi. The area from the boarder to Moshi is very mountainous and green with lots of trees and flowers. And the heat is hectic, just like in Mombasa, I even managed to get dyhadrated – again. After a 8 hours tiresome and sweaty trip we finally arrived to Moshi, a small and peaceful town located at the foot of Kilimanjaro, the mountain with the highest peak in Africa.
Altogether we spent 5 whole days in Moshi, just resting and enjoying the beautiful nature that surrounded us. If the weather was clear in the morning and evening hours we could even see Kilimanjaro from the back yard of our B&B. Everyday we walked the short distance into town to stroll around, buy fresh fruits and off course our new speciality – new made popcorn. We also found our favourite place to go and eat, named Kilimanjaro Coffee Lounge. For a good price you could get food of great quality and they had the best coffee milkshake ever tasted. Except from one grumpy waitress the staff was also very service minded.
After watching the peak of Kilimanjaro for three days we decided to get closer to the mountain. So we booked an one-day hiking trip. With our own guide and from a starting point of 1200m we managed to climb all the way up to 3000m (out of 5895m). The hiking went mostly through the Kilimanjaro jungle-like forest, so the tall trees covered us from the sun and heat. On our way through the forest we experienced many different types of vegetations, saw a couple of different monkeys and birds and a big variety of trees, plants and beautiful flowers. Our goal was the crater located on a 3000m hight, from where we also got a view of the smaller one of Kilimanjaro’s three peaks and a stunning view of the landscape below even as far as to the boarder of Kenya. After a pick-nick break at the rest camp close by, we hiked down from the mountain with aching legs and big smiles on our faces.
After 5 great days we left the green and sunny Moshi behind us and headed back to our home in Nairobi. Hiking at Kilimanjaro was such an amazing experience and I really hope we get the chance to come back and make it all the way to the top!
Today we were out of electricity all day long, the whole area was. I spent the day at the house studying, which means I had no reason to complain at all. But when power breaks down like this, it hits hard on the people with the small businesses, trying to make a living in order to survive. To give you an example: My house mate Martin went away in the afternoon to get his car washed, it took hours before he got back and me and O.J. (my other house mate) wondered what took so long. The washing company couldn’t use the pressure-wash, due to lack of power, so they had to wash the car by hand. The bigger issue was that there was no other customers besides Martin. So the guys really struggled. Back in the house me and my friends had a nice time just talking. But when the sun started to set and Martin lighted the first candle, the electricity came back. And five minutes later we were watching the new Superman movie. It’s a little ironic I suppose, though I must say that we’re quite good in communicating with each other, even when electricity is working.
Being used to have electricity and then loose it is really a challenge though, especially in the long term. And I think most of us can agree on that. I still remember when the storm Gudrun swiped over Sweden in the winter of 2005 and left some people without power in their homes and businesses for up to 2-3 weeks, if not longer. I worked in the elderly care at that time and I recall memories of driving around checking up on people so they managed without electricity all by themselves out in the forests. Some elderly people were even evacuated in order to get the accurate help and care that they needed.
So to have electricity is a really good thing and it makes life so much easier. It means that you can communicate and share knowledge and information over media. People can cook their food with other alternatives than making fires indoor, which makes a huge difference from a health perspective. People don’t have to destroy their eye sight while studying in the light of a candle when they can turn a light on. For me it also means that I can have my little mosquito lamp trap on in the night time and don’t worry of getting malaria. Electricity is such a brilliant invention, but not to be taken for granted. And once in a while I think it might be good for us to be reminded of that and just let the light shine a little bit longer…